The LEGO Group has announced that it will be closing down the MMO LEGO Universe on January 31, 2012, a little over one full year after it was initially launched.
A statement from The LEGO Group
says, “In spite of very positive player feedback and a large number of players in the free play zone, it has not been possible to convert a satisfactory number of players to paying subscribers.”
When LEGO Universe is closed down the company will also eliminate 115 employees, all of them linked to the Play Well Studio in Louisville and to the marketing division that the company has in Denmark.
It seems that LEGO Universe, despite having a significant player base, has not managed to generate the revenue that was necessary to support itself.
During February of this year The LEGO Group has taken over original game developer NetDevil, firing some of its staff.
Since then the game received new areas, a whole new leveling system and a free-to-play option in order to generate interest from players.
It seems that this was not enough to create the paying player base needed to support the game.
LEGO Universe was initially targeted at kids, with content created specifically for them and options designed to limit their interactions with strangers.
The closure of LEGO Universe might be a sign that moving to a free-to-play business model might not be a universal cure for all troubled MMO projects
, despite the success registered by such games as The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online.
The LEGO Group has said that it will continue to work with companies like TT Games and Warner Bros in order to create the licensed LEGO titles that have found success on the market, like those based on Star Wars, and it will also continue to pursue other gaming related opportunities.